Spencer’s gift for 2010: Four records for the New Year
Nothing brings people together like music. This year I decided to share a handful of my favorites with all of Big Duck’s friends. In the cold winter months to come, it’s important to have some warm soothing sounds to get you through those brisk days. Enjoy!
Bob Dylan – New Morning
After Dylan’s 1969 motorcycle accident he ducked into hiding, mostly to spend time with his young children and take a break from touring. Recorded in 1970, “New Morning” shows a more endearing and less abstract side of the world famous pop star. There’s an unmistakable timber in songs like “Sign on the Window” and “The Man in Me” that’s reminiscent of love and family. The album has a gentle optimism that some of his earlier work lacks. Not to be lumped in with some of the lesser works Dylan produced in the 70’s, “New Morning” is a testament to fresh beginnings, love and family. A true classic, and a great way to start the new year.
Arthur Russell – Love is Overtaking Me
“Love is Overtaking Me” is a compilation of pop songs recorded by composer and multi-instrumentalist Arthur Russell, best known for his cello work and association with New York’s underground in the 70’s and 80’s. This compilation is really an exposé on Russell’s life long fascination with popular music, and enthusiasm matched only by his inclination towards the poetics of language. From his earlier folk recordings to his later drum machine laced toe tappers, we get a full view of his personal struggles and lust for life all wrapped up in a musical package. Sure to keep up your pace on the way to the train during those cold winter mornings.
Sam Cooke’s “Live At The Harlem Square Club” is widely considered to be one of the greatest soul records of all time. Unlike many other live recordings which run the risk of poor sound quality and lack of technical refinement, this one raises the bar. It manages the tall order of capturing a performance by an artist whose life was about to be cut short, which only makes the depth and swell of the music all the more prismatic. A pioneer and founding father of soul music, Sam Cooke’s influence is incalculable. You can almost hear the distress and trouble in the young singers voice. Originally released as a live album entitled One Night Stand, the record was re-issued in 1985. A very soulful way to ring in the new year.
Anne Briggs – Anne Briggs
Anne Briggs is an almost mythic figure in British folk culture. After the death of both parents, a young Briggs was sent to live with her aunt. Shortly after turning 17 she left the comforts of home for a life on the road. It wasn’t long before she made a name for herself and by 1963 was a regular on the folk circuit throughout Scotland, Ireland and England. A notoriously wild young woman, Anne often missed more shows that she played, many times to the dismay of her manager and booking agent. In her self titled 1971 album Briggs brings an air to the songs that have the ability to take the listener back in time. These traditional tunes (with two Briggs originals for good measure) have the ability to make any cold winter day seem more like the passing of a spring time afternoon in the meadow.